The G. E. M. Anscombe reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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G. E. M. Anscombe

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Gertrude Elizabeth Marie Anscombe (March 18, 1919 - January 5, 2001) (known as Elizabeth Anscombe, published as G. E. M. Anscombe) was a British philosopher and theologian and a pupil of Ludwig Wittgenstein (See also: Analytic philosophy, Wittgensteinian). She contributed extensively to the fields of ethics, especially to the modern revival of virtue ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, Logic, Semiotics, and language theory. Her 1958 article "Modern Moral Philosophy", introduced the term "consequentialism" into the English language.


Elizabeth Anscome studied at St Hugh's College of the University of Oxford and graduated in 1941. In her first year as an undergraduate she converted to Roman Catholicism, and remained a devout Catholic thereafter. Elizabeth Anscombe was married to Peter Geach, also a Catholic convert and student of Wittgenstein, and also a distinguished British academic philosopher. They eventually had three sons and four daughters.

Following Wittgenstein's death in 1951, Anscome became one of the three executors of his estate, alongside Rush Rhees and G. H. von Wright. They were responsible for the editing and publication of many of Wittgenstein's notes and manuscripts following his death.

Abscombe was a noted debater, and one story claims that C. S. Lewis was so humiliated by her in one argument that he was led by it to give up serious theology and turn instead to children's literature, specifically his Narnia novels.

She was also a prominent anti-abortion activist, and wrote articles opposing abortion as well as most forms of contraception, in line with the views of the Roman Catholic Church at the time. She and two of her daughters were arrested while protesting outside an abotion clinic in Britain.


In 1942 Anscombe became a postgraduate student at the University of Cambridge, where she met Ludwig Wittgenstein, of whom she became one of the foremost interpreters. She wrote a substantial introduction (1959) to his pre-war Tractatus. Her translation of his other master work, Philosophical Investigations (1953), remains the standard edition in English; she also translated several of his other, lesser works. Her own books include Intention (1957) and three volumes of collected papers, published in 1981: From Parmenides to Wittgenstein; Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind; and Ethics, Religion and Politics. She was for many years the Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, a position to which she was elected in 1970.